The ABSA Cape Epic 2012 is over for the Subaru-MarathonMTB.com Team. Unfortunately only half the team finished again, as last year – just the other half this time.
Mike was there to welcome me over the finish line today though, like the good team-mate he is, despite his own disappointment at not being able to ride too.
Quite a different day today. The whole day has a festive atmosphere for everyone left in the race. The stage is only 65k, with 1350m of climbing. A decent ride, but nothing compared to some of the monsters we have got through so far this week. And the start is at 8:30, rather than the usual 7am in half-darkness. If you’ve made it to the startline on day eight, you would have to have a serious mechanical or physical breakdown not to make it to the end.
Not a day for heroics then – much better to take it fairly steady and make sure you reach the finish. That’s what auxiliary team-mate Jeff and I said to each other in the start chute. Others were still racing for places – such as fellow Brits Josh and Ben from team USE / Mountain Trax, fighting to hold on to their 20th place – but we weren’t.
We took the first climb steady. After feeling pretty empty yesterday, from fatigue and stress over the last few days, I was convinced I would just take it steady. But after a caffeine gel or two, and with a bike newly tuned by Phillip at Scott Sports Africa, it’s amazing what having a race number tied on will still do! Jeff said he was feeling fried and suggested I crack on. Which is just what I did. Suddenly a cruisey stage turned into a three-hour time trial. Riding on my own, riding up to groups and smashing straight past them. It was fun going straight through a lot of people we had been racing earlier in the week.
Coming into Lourensford brought mixed feelings. Relief at having finished after having spent the last day in 2011 feeling sorry for myself with a broken collarbone. Satisfaction at having ridden strong on the eighth of eight hard days. Excitement at not having to get up the crack of dawn tomorrow and get back on a bicycle. But also a chunk of disappointment, that I wasn’t riding over the finish line hand in hand with my team-mate. After all, such a big part of this race is about the team. And it’s a great feeling to achieve a good finish together with a good mate.
But it wasn’t to be this year. Third time lucky?